In Oklahoma paternity and divorce cases, arrangements regarding children are spelled out in final decrees. A decree outlines each party’s obligations and rights concerning issues like visitation, custody, and child support. These orders usually stay in place until children turn 18 or graduate from high school. However, parents can change the terms of final decrees if their circumstances change. Modifying an original order requires an appeal to the courts. It is simpler to change child support terms than a custody agreement, but courts will alter custody in some instances.
A Legal Decree Determines Child Support and Custody
Every U.S. state has laws designed to ensure non-custodial parents help support their children. Clients may negotiate arrangements, but the courts can also decide the terms. Attorneys such as Charles J. Kania guide clients through divorce and paternity proceedings and assist them in negotiating details. The courts calculate the minimum amount of support that non-custodial parents have to pay. Judges might also determine custody based on the best interests of the child. Arrangements are detailed in final decrees that make each parent’s responsibilities and rights clear.
An Appeal Is Required to Change Custody and Support Orders
Final decrees often include orders surrounding issues like the division of property, and these terms cannot be changed. However, they also include child visitation, custody, and support arrangements that can be modified in certain circumstances. Clients may petition for changes if they can show proof of a permanent, substantial, and material change of conditions.
Courts Alter Support Arrangements in Certain Circumstances
Parents whose incomes have changed might need to change their original arrangements. State laws require that parents support their children financially. If they do not have custody of their children, they are required to pay support to the custodial parent. According to U.S. News, courts in most states determine the amount of support based on parents’ gross incomes, and the parent who earns more generally pays child support. Parents whose financial circumstances have changed can petition the courts to have child support payments raised or lowered.
Custody Changes Must Be in the Interests of the Child
Although custody orders are considered permanent, parents may petition for a change in arrangements if it helps children. The courts will only alter custody arrangements when they find it is in the best interests of children. It is difficult for parents in Oklahoma to modify custody orders because the state’s family courts operate under the presumption that the arrangement currently in place is best for the child. For instance, children with special needs may adapt to life changes better when they spend time with both parents instead of one, a finding reported in Time magazine. The courts will amend custody orders if a petitioner can provide that the custodial parent is abusing drugs or alcohol or children are being abused physically or psychologically.
During Oklahoma divorce and paternity cases, parents’ child custody and support arrangements are detailed in final decrees. Each party is required to obey these orders or be subject to legal penalties. However, parents whose financial situations change can petition the courts to change support arrangements. It is much harder to change custody arrangements, but it can be done if a non-custodial parent can prove that leaving children with the custodial parent is not in a child’s best interests.